Retailers charging too much for LFT, says premier

| 09/11/2021 | 101 Comments

(CNS): With retailers charging as much as $10 for one COVID-19 lateral flow test (LFT), Premier Wayne Panton has warned that the government will step in if they continue to rip people off for an essential product. The government has made these tests duty free, and while they accept that merchants need to make a small profit, pricing them over $7 is unacceptable, he said. The rapid tests are now at the heart of government’s policy to manage the current runaway community transmission of this virus, but not only is the price unaffordable for some people, the tests are also still in short supply.

Panton said the use of LFTs is enabling people to go to school and work but he had a major concern about the price to the public.

“I want to see the costs come down,” Panton said when he appeared on CMR’s online show from quarantine Tuesday. “This is an essential product. We are battling a pandemic and I want the people of the country not to have to bleed through the nose to be able to acquire these products in order for them to continue with some semblance of normality and be able to go and earn a living and to go to school.”

The premier said he had seen single tests on sale for as much as $10, which was way too high, and he had a real problem with anyone charging more than $7, he added, as he warned retailers that they were allowed to cover the cost and risks but they were “not entitled to make a killing” when the tests cost no more than $3 wholesale.

“If this sort of thing continues, government will take some sort of action in relation to it,” Panton said. “Government very specifically removed the duty on lateral flow tests in order to minimise the impact… because we regard this as an absolutely essential product.”

He added, “Having removed the duty, it is really upsetting to see people being charged exorbitant amounts of money for what is… an essential product that helps to contribute to the safe working of our society, the public health generally and the health of individual families. I am not happy at all that people are charging significantly higher prices just to make money on this when they know it is an essential product and a lot of people need to access them.”

He pointed out that if families members were all having to take lateral flow tests every two or three days, the cost of buying tests could be the difference between them being able to afford lunch or not.

The supply of tests also remains a problem. He said “significant supplies” had been ordered by government for the health services and education but more would be needed. He asked those buying and selling the tests not buy in bulk to cut the costs and stop trying to profit from the tests. Panton said it was “unconscionable” for people to be trying to make money on these tests and he encouraged community groups to aggregate and import the tests themselves.

Meanwhile, with Cayman scheduled to move to phase four of its border reopening plan in eleven days time, when the mandatory quarantine will be lifted for verifiably vaccinated travellers, the pressure on tests supplies will increase. These people will be required to take three lateral flow tests during the first ten days after arrival.

Panton said he expected that tourists would be paying for their tests, but how they will be given tests has not been worked out. He did not say whether residents who qualify not to isolated will be required to pay.

It is still not clear how government will manage a situation where tourists who are here for just a short trip but test positive before departure, given that they will not be able to fly back.

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Category: Health, Medical

Comments (101)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I must give credit and extend respect to Moses Kirkconnel and his family’s store on Cayman Brac, Kirkconnell Ltd. While just about everything on the Brac is significantly more expensive compared to Grand Cayman, Kirconnell Ltd. is proving they are for fellow Brackers and offering the LFT kit for $5.75.

  2. Kadafe says:

    Please put some of that effort towards addressing the price gouging at the supermarkets and gas pumps. Was not aware that the government had any authority to set market prices, especially with the prices of essential goods going up every other week. Could have fooled me.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Premier not happy with the LFT prices that retailers are charging? What about the prices Cayman Airways is charging for a trip to Miami? 800 usd… how nasty?!?!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Panton or Saunders certainly aren’t talking about the cost of CI $150 per PCR test that the private hospitals are billing the CIG for. Everyone thinks its free. Wake up people you are paying for it. You and I pay for testing for tourists, residents, citizens, visitors, everyone. I just read that 3696 PCR tests were carried out in the last 3 days. At about 1000 a day for months and months the cost is exorbitant. Do the math people – we are all paying for this. Wealthy or poor nothing is charged back.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We know who the war profiteers are and we will not forget this!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, view The Panel with Ralph Lewis

      3 of that bunch are lined up there to spout their garbage.

  6. Yasmine Shetty says:

    Wake up Cayman… the whole world is realizing how silly and ineffective all Covid measures are, they are moving forwards and living a normal life in the mean time we haven’t moved an inch from June 2020. If one leave island one will realise how the media is playing us and how this governments are controlling us.

    • Anonymous says:

      The whole world is not realizing all covid measures are ineffective. Many countries have put in restrictions to slow the spread. It was just in the news today that Germany is not going to be allowing unvaccinated people into non-essential public places because their hospitals are rapidly filling with unvaccinated people. Countries may not be able to stop covid completely but that doesn’t mean that they have to do nothing and let people die.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, Now they giving the well off/rich retailers a hot item to “break it off in” the poor people of this country!. All about that love of money bo bo and the elected governments POWER. Better wake up everyone. Do the right thing and get on with life. Be responsible not lazy and want a free break from work with these lockdowns/quarantine. Sickens me how some people using this work from home and isolation just to be lazy! The real workers are out here getting vaccinated, testing regular and being on the front line for all us!

      • Anonymous says:

        Bo Bo so are the unvaccinated people. We are out here everyday going to work and placing our lives and families at risks. There are no regard to these unvaccinated persons due to health reasons by employers and the government. We are treated like unvaccinated people who won’t take the vaccine. This is discrimination at its best and is acceptable by our government.

        • Anonymous says:

          10/11/2021 at 8:22 pm didn’t mean to imply that only vaccinated persons are working.. just stating some measures that are being “done” to carry on, instead of hoping for a lockdown and staying home. Sure there are many person that for whatever reason cannot or will not get vaccinated and still working! That should go without saying. But the clarification taken and agreed.

    • Anonymous says:

      In Cayman, we have mastered the art of kicking the can down the road, and make things much worse by delaying the inevitable.

  7. Cheese Face says:

    And in other news, retailers charge too much for everything. Health insurance providers can’t stop laughing. And all other service providers purchase yachts and private islands so they can party like its 1999.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Stop testing and simply treat the symptomatic. Wasting millions and shuffling into a private hospital’s pockets for something that does not make sense except for fear mongering. We get the wave as ay country and will get over it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you!!! Why have people lost all their brain cells over this? Who cares if someone has COVID and zero symptoms? Why all the panic and requests for restrictions? Makes no sense! We’re a very highly vaccinated country and can’t continue to hold everyone hostage over what is in 99% of cases a very mild cold/flu, or even less than that! Let’s get on with the show for goodness sakes. We need to just let it rip through and be over with it already. Anything else is just delaying the inevitable.

  9. Anonymous says:

    CIG – What a JOKE. Why have inbound vaccinated people that have a negative PCR before arrival waist 3 LFT….Remember Cayman is now the top of the list with the highest infection rate. More chance these arrivals will catch it locally.

    Give it up..We are the the COVID world envy anymore just open up and let them be free to catch it here.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t where he got that price of $3.00 must be fantasy land, my supplier who is a wholesale supplier in the US have them for nearly $10.00. 25 to a case. This week I could have gotten almost 1500, but I said the price was too close to the moon. I think the Premier need to say where on God’s green earth they are for $3.00 and not fantasy land.

    • Anonymous says:

      Operative words: “in the US”, we are not in the US. Here they are much less expensive. There is one wholesaler that has a CI4.75 per test if you buy a minimum of 100 as an individual. Many drug and health related items are significantly higher in the US than the rest of the world.

      • Anonymous says:

        Also Government has to realize that people in business have to cover costs of TB license fees, work permits, salaries rent electricity insurance etc.
        Can’t charge cost and stay in business.

        • Anonymous says:

          The Premier is not talking about charging cost. Please pay attention and read carefully. It’s about gouging and not making a reasonable profit. Smh.

          • Anonymous says:

            And if you read the list of overheads you will see every justification for charging what it takes to stay in business and make a reasonable profit.
            You’re a civil servant aren’t you ?

        • Anonymous says:

          Government is losing money as well due lateral test kit are duty free!

        • Anonymous says:

          Realize, shmealize. What a stupid comment.
          Pretty sure all that is being covered with the remainder of their sales. WTH you think this ONE thing is going to break them and they need to include all that sh!it in the cost? They’ve been floating that story for donkeys years.

    • XXX says:

      You need to look for a new wholesale supplier. This ones ripping you off.
      I’m purchasing them on island for $4.75 each, min 100, and I’m sure he is not selling them at cost.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What effing purpose does that man serve ?

  12. Anonymous says:

    $10 is about the going rate if you’re not getting it free from the government.

    • anon says:

      Whatever the real cost of a LFT is, all the owners of pharmacies here are making a killing. One product I buy in Miami for US$11.50 sells here for CIS36.50, clearly conscience is overridden by greed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Maybe he should also address the increases in rent as well since he’s so concerned about prices now

  14. Anonymous says:

    How about taking action against the Cayman Airways monopoly??? $700 return to Miami, a one hour flight!!! Price gouging is despicable on all levels.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Prices in Cayman are sort of Viagra effects with the difference that once up it never comes down.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If CIG want people to use them, then they should be free.

  17. A regular Joe says:

    Finally someone who cares about people’s pockets, can we expect gas, electricity, groceries and all prices to be reviewed as well…

  18. Josh says:

    This is being noticed due to the hype, like in the beginning with the mask robbery. Others take advantage for the longest time unnoticed. Perfect example – Wife was looking for a thermometer to check the kids temperature in the mornings.
    “Simzo HW-F7” (Amazon19.95USD) sells at Kirk Home Center for 103.99CI (exact model). Tell me a 500% mark up has nothing to do with taking advantage of the situation. Happy to support local businesses…but be fair…

    • Anonymous says:

      Your case in point why I don’t even bother wasting gas on buying local unless it’s critically needed ASAP.

    • Anonymous says:

      The main reason I don’t shop in Kirk home. They have a reputation for greed.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I feel sorry for the big man. Thrown right in the deep end and he hasn’t a clue. Probably sleeping off the jet-lag

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s expecting the civil service to provide the same level of response that he would get at Walkers. Not a chance.

  20. Elvis says:

    Price gouging. Take note and don’t go back there simple.

    Or stop complaining and keep lining their pockets. Choices, we all have them

  21. Anonymous says:

    $17 at ALT

  22. Anonymous says:

    Nice diversionary horseshit from windbag panton.

    The fact is that CIG has allowed rampant, out of control community spread yet has totally failed to plan for or ensure an adequate supply of these tests.

    Panton and the rest of the clowns need removing from public office. Now.
    Grotesque, revolting negligence from pact.

    • Anonymous says:

      They weren’t fussed for the tests in the first place. They wanted this to happen before the tourists get here so there isn’t an outcry for the borders to be closed again.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not Panton that is spreading the Covid around. It’s the damn foolish people here that cannot or will not stay home when they test positive. It is not up to the Government to police the people. If they did then you would have a problem with them doing that too.

      • Anonymous says:

        This makes no sense. Are you saying we shouldn’t have any laws? Isn’t the government supposed to enact and police laws that are meant to keep the public safe?

    • Anonymous says:

      3:42 pm. When schools were closed for the summer, how many school children had COVID-19? Think about it . When schools opened up and teachers came back, what happened? Most schools had COVID-19.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Land Pirates Ahoy!

  24. GT business owner. says:

    How do you expect me to make a living if you manipulate what the market is willing to pay for these tests?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t the government just import a load of them and sell them at cost to land here? Takes away the opportunity from the merchants, easy fix.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why did the govt not ensure an adequate supply?

      Because they are gormless incompetent morons, that is why.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why do you expect the government to provide everything for free?

        We have gotten so use to these handouts from political parties that it has become the standard that we use to measure each successful government. Nobody, thinks they should have to work to earn a living anymore.

        Today, there was some idiot on Facebook telling everyone about how she gets the LFT’s from her school for her child and just throws them in the garbage when she gets them..Worse,not only is she not vaccinated, she is probably one of those on stipend, continuing to suck of the Government tit.

        Too many freeloaders and ungrateful people on this island. This is why the expats are always making fun of us.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, not for free just an adequate supply. These idiots have known for months and months and months that large scale LTF testing would be needed to avoid chaos, school shutdowns and major interruptions to businesses and supply chains.

          But they did nothing. Diddly Squat. The square root of FA. Total utter incompetence and stupidity. A simply appalling government made up of appalling individuals.

          • Yosemity Sam says:

            Incompetence and stupidy? Yes. There’s a lot of that going around, plus the graft and theft. It’s been that way for years! it seems to be the Caymanian way. They had an anti-corruption unit once upon a time….. but it must have been kicked out. I haven’t heard of them doing anything.

          • Anonymous says:

            Hear hear. If we had the hotline for Mother England for vaccines and a set of (7) Rapid Flow Tests are FREE from every Pharmacy in England,;

            then WHY did Cayman not have 50,000 ready-to-go for every unvaccinated under 12 year old when school started and our Elementary School outbreaks in October?

            To read that the base cost is $3 and the winner of an Open Govt Tender was given a Purchase Order on October 27th is ridiculous!

            Firstly: The CI Government WAITED to tender until October?
            Secondly: Then NOT to honor the system bidder (Randy Merren)

            The politicians have really screwed up the LFT and Phase 4 plan……

        • Anonymous says:

          I am anxiously awaiting my Turkey!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Retailers have to cover their risks in not being able to sell the product as well. Based on today’s reported results, it’s probably best to assume that you either have been, or will soon be, infected and not bother to waste money buying any LFT kits.

    Just move on to stage 2 and ask yourself how bad are your symptoms.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Import them ourselves? Wayne, seriously, have you ever tried to deal with customs, especially in relation to medical items not for personal use?

    • Anonymous says:

      That man is so disconnected from the reality of the average person. He thinks we all have personal assistants and million dollar bank accounts at our disposal. What a leader smh

  28. Anonymous says:

    In the UK these tests are free from the NHS – where is Cayman getting them from?! They should cost pennies.
    I’ll be bringing a few boxes with me anyway next summer unless the borders are closed again …

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure they are “free” from the NHS. But the UK government pays somewhere between £5 and £8 for each one. If you travel to the Uk, you have to pay a commercial rate for the test, and according to you can pay “as little as £22”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pay UK tax or National Insurance?

    • Anonymous says:

      And then you intend of selling them or giving them out for free?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Not everyone has a MLA’s salary.. Even $7 is WAY too high.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I knew it!! I even said, some people are going to make another killing off of another Covid thang.
    Why should there be any profit??

    Typical CAYMANIANS making a buck off their own people..
    Oh, there’s a good CaymanKind idea. Charge the expats for them and give them to Caymanians. LMAO Can’t believe someone hasn’t suggested this typical entitled idea.

  31. Anonymous says:

    They shouldn’t be charging for a profit AT ALL anyway.
    WTF??? I thought we were all in this together?

  32. Anonymous says:

    They should make a profit????? WHY!!??
    What about “We are all in this together”??

    Out of everything they ding us and overcharge us for this is the ONE thing they should be okay to NOT MAKE A PROFIT!!!

    This is seriously shameful and disgusting. WHY doo they need to make a profit on this? THIS ONE THING
    We ARE all in this together.

    If ONE retailer advertises the cost @ $4 (with that being a $1 profit for admin) That is who I will be doing ALL of my business with for every other product.

  33. Anonymous says:

    They should be subsided at the very least.

    If it was paving in the Brac it would be.

    Perhaps R3 should partner with a large supplier to offer them at cost, or reduced. That would also immediately stop profiteering.

    • Anonymous says:

      They should definitely be subsided. Excessive panic testing is what is driving the price up. Supply and demand, Wayne should google it.

  34. Unhappy caymanian says:

    Unsurprisingly moronic policy from the current and previous administrations.

    LFT well used in the Uk and protocols well documented.

    UK: 7 NHS approved LFT kits 48 hour delivery £0.00. No order limitations.

    No charge to UK nationals living in the UK.

    Cayman: Crabs in a barrel.

    Good luck to you all.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are limitations, technically you can order one box a day but obviously that’s still more than anyone needs.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Too bad this government (and previous) could not make Food duty-free…which is way more essential to living than a LFT.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most retailers wouldn’t cut prices anyway. Greed is king in Cayman – it’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby.

    • Anonymous says:

      09 @ 1:22pm – If I’m not mistaken, since the 1976 or 1980 Government, flour products have been duty free (or are supposed to be). Then years later dairy products were made duty free. Am I’m writing this, there’s no way to be sure without calling Customs.

      But if I’m correct, I doubt many merchants pass it on!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Regulate it. If retailers don’t like it gov can sell em and earn the money directly

  37. Anonymous says:

    nothing new in the cayman islands….
    what has this or any government ever done to tackle the cost of living or doing business.?

  38. Anonymous says:

    If LFT was a part of the re-open plan then why do we not have enough? Data on the spread of the delta variant has been available for quite some time that allows for calculation of tests needed. Why are we not enforcing social distancing, working from home, outdoor dining etc.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Having to buy the LFTs is not something everyone can afford.

    COVID has taken a toll on regular people, who are desperate for another pension withdrawal.

    This is an exorbitant cost to some. Subsidizing by Government will have to occur.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Mr Premier Sir, I question your understanding of a broad section of the electorate as well as the underpinning of the Cayman Islands economy if only now you’re recognizing opportunism.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Panton does not understand basic economics. We are in good hands!

  42. Anonymous says:

    Panton said it was “unconscionable” but we are happy to take tourist money and invite them to a covid hotspot with a so called ‘open safely’ plan. Not working very well is it?

  43. Anonymous says:

    Everything in Cayman is a total rip off. Why should this be any different?

  44. Anonymous says:

    So now we are a communist country Wayne?

  45. Anonymous says:

    Don’t like it, don’t buy them.
    Unnecessary testing is out of control anyway.

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